Natural disasters are a part of life and can occur anywhere and at any time. While some places are likely to experience the particular phenomenon, you’re never completely free from the threat of a disaster. Following various hurricanes, law firms and other businesses have found themselves displaced and stranded with the daunting task of assessing the losses, bringing their systems back up to speed, retrieving records and finally resuming their services.
According to the Insurance Institute, one in four businesses that are affected by natural disasters never reopen, this is with the inclusion of law firms. After a natural disaster has occurred, the task of picking up the pieces and moving forward begins. It’s at this point that advanced planning can aid in the recovery and the long-term effects of the disaster. Here are seven of the most practical steps a law firm should take to get back on its feet once again:
1. Take stock of the situation
As leaders of the law firm, the best way to start disaster recovery is to take stock, assess the damage, gather the resources left intact and find a way to withstand the rests of the calamity. At this point, the situation is similar to the start of a new law practice. Except for one thing, your insurance plan. Reviewing your contract from your insurance provider is an essential process in the recovery of your law firm. If temporarily displaced, an ideal insurance coverage should cover interruptions of business operations. Godspeed.
2. Planning and response
Whichever path your law firm takes, your lawyers will need to be responsible for all the active cases they supervise, so a temporary presence must take effect. At this point, disaster recovery needs to be under the management of an able team who has recovered psychologically from the consequences of the supernatural event.
3. Recuperate your firm
After the disaster, your law firm has to get engaged in the tedious of replacing the things that your business has lost. In the worst cases, most (if not all) office equipment will need replacement. Any vital information that may have been stored in a facility in which is now damaged needs to be recovered. This is, of course, if you’re not using a cloud-based software.
4. Reconnecting with the outside world
In the event of a crisis, many businesses rely on the services of lawyers to take them through the recovery process potentially making it harder on your firm. Try reconnecting with your current clients and inform them of your current situation. With that said, confirm with the clerk or judicial assistant of the appropriate court system to confirm deadlines or extensions due to the natural disaster.
5. Deal with the personal losses
Sometimes, situations are just hard to work through, and so avoidance can be a common behavior throughout the workplace. Remember that if neither you nor your employees have taken care of personal losses at home or with relatives, no one will be able to be at work all the way. Mental health is important. Consider what they may be going through especially with economic differences.
6. Post-traumatic stress and counseling
When a natural disaster occurs, many people, inclusive of lawyers, tend to act on adrenaline and survival mode. At this point, they find themselves taking actions that they would otherwise not have taken under normal circumstances. Once the danger passes, the human bodies will process the information in meaningful ways. As an employer, you should ensure that your lawyers and other support staff are counseled. Sometimes your employees may fall into denial, and a word of encouragement from their employer may be all that they need.
7. Hire temporary workers
If the disaster leads to injury, death or unavailability due to transport issues reducing the size of your staff, your firm may be required to operate by using a skeleton crew. However, for your firm to resume normal operations quicker, you will need adequate staff. You may, therefore, be required to work with employment agencies to get employees to fill in the gaps, even temporarily.
Law firms should be aware of the risks incurred from a natural disaster, and the incorporation of a disaster action plan is key to ensuring a backup for your information with the aim of bringing the business back as fast as possible. The above steps can make the recovery process smoother, although they might not necessarily erase the disaster or ease the pain. Interestingly, it is the impetus of your firm to rethink its business strategy before making major business recovery decisions.
Fingers crossed, a contingency plan was already in place before a natural disaster, and then nothing happened. But if not, you’re not alone. Don’t allow the stress to overwhelm you. You’ve got this, and you’re going to continue to thrive. One setback does not define you; it is the ability to be resilient that does.
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